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New Giada Article

Ted Alvarez
Vail CO, Colorado
September 15, 2007


Giada fans, eat your heart out — I ate her trout.

It’s no secret that Giada De Laurentiis attracts legions of fans who religiously watch the beautiful chef’s Food Network shows “Everyday Italian” and “Giada’s Weekend Getaways.” But few can say they’ve eaten meals meant for the Le Cordon Bleu and Spago-trained De Laurentiis’s sophisticated palate.

During a shoot for “Weekend Getaways” at Sweet Basil in the Vail Village, the production crew opted to shoot exterior shots in the fading afternoon light rather than the table scene. Both myself and another lucky extra were given the herb-grilled rainbow trout with zucchini-tomato salsa, arugula puree, sautéed gnocchi and brown butter meant for her.

“I can’t believe we’re eating Giada’s trout,” said John Buckley of Peeple’s Ink, who helped organize Giada’s stay in the Vail Valley.

For the Rocky Mountain episode of “Giada’s Weekend Getaways,” both Giada De Laurentiis and her production crew spent all of Tuesday bouncing around locations in Vail and Beaver Creek sampling some of the best food and entertainment the Vail Valley has to offer. Stops included Bivans for breakfast, horseback riding in Beaver Creek, Sweet Basil for lunch, Beano’s Cabin for dinner and Kemo Sabe to shop for western wear. The Rocky Mountain episode of “Giada’s Weekend Getaways” will likely air in late October or early November.

Extra, extra!

To prepare for the shoot, Sweet Basil owners Matt and Jana Morgan were asked by showrunners to provide extras to populate the shoot, which started filming on the sunlit patio during Sweet Basil’s off-hours, but eventually ran into dinner service.

“When we mentioned it was happening, more than enough people wanted to be extras and come by,” Matt Morgan said. “It was fascinating to see the level of interest from everyone, from fans right down to the clientele that had no idea what was happening but wanted to see what was going on. We had dinner guests come in later for dinner reservations, and they stopped by the bar to watch. They were very intrigued, obviously because this is a very cool national show. It was pretty cool.”

"When the decision was finally made (and) Sweet Basil was selected, we were thrilled," said Jana Morgan. "The Food Network has a very loyal fan base of foodies and it's great to get national recognition."

Self-professed food network fan and overall foodie Stacey Reid jumped at the chance to serve as an extra at Sweet Basil.

“I am just a huge Giada fan — I've been watching her her shows on during my kids’ naptime — I was so stoked, I called five different babysitters to make sure I could come,” Reid said. “Giada was incredibly gracious; she didn't seem at all like the Hollywood type with the posse. It definitely solidified my loyalty to ‘Everyday Italian’ and ‘Weekend Getaways.’ And Sweet Basil really is an incredible restaurant — they chose a restaurant that really is a crown jewel of Vail.”

Sweet Basil veterans Matt McConnell and Alisha Quinn participated in the shoot as on-camera talent; they performed their real-life parts of server and hostess.

“We treated her the way we usually treat people; we try to give everyone the five-star treatment and make everyone feel as welcome as Giada,” McConnell said. “I think she enjoyed it very much. She was really nice and easy to be around, and very easy to want to take care of. She’s got a great smile and she’s stunningly beautiful. You look at her and it’s easy to say, ‘sure Giada, whatever you want.’”

The producers asked Quinn to behave naturally and guide De Laurentiis as she would any regular customer and have normal interactions.

“I think she's really cute and I really like her show,” Quinn said. “She seems super down-to-earth and approachable. When she left she remembered all of our names and didn't have any attitude towards us. I asked her how much she enjoyed Vail and she mentioned how nice everybody here and mentioned she had a great time. I know it's her job, but it seemed like she genuinely liked her experience at Sweet Basil.”

Sweet Basil executive chef Paul Anders cooked for TV spots before at Denver-area affiliates, but even he was surprised at how the crew composed the shots of him cooking Sweet Basil’s signature trout dish.

“I think the most interesting thing was when they were shooting the kitchen footage — we did everything in segmented components of the dish, and the final product of me plating it, rather than making it look like one seamless thing,” Anders said. “But I wasn’t really nervous. It's what I do — I didn't really do anything differently. I have high expectations anyway, so it's no different than a normal day.”

Bivans executive chef Pascal Coudouy echoed this sentiment when he made his elk sausage hash with poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce.

“Wel, I think I passed the age to be nervous, but we talked a little bit and she’s very, very nice,” Coudouy said. “We did it in two stages around the restaurant shooting on the deck around 11 a.m. until 2:15. After, we shot the main kitchen for another two hours. It was a beautiful day.”

Just shoot me

The extras arrived around 4:15 to see lights and cameras from the “Giada’s Weekend Getaways” film crew waiting for action, but it would be nearly two hours before shooting started. We extras soon learned that filming television seemed 75 percent setup and 25 percent filming.

“I didn't realize how much setup went into it,” Quinn said. “Lighting was a huge thing They were there for hours before she actually did anything. she had to eat her meal a couple of different times. It was amazing just watching the whole production and the process of how long it takes for a few seconds of television. They brought down her meal, she had a couple bites, then they brought down another round and she took a couple more bites for the camera. It's a rough life.”

In between takes, De Laurentiis shared Vietnamese spring rolls and truffle fries with the crew, and a subdued but party-like atmosphere buzzed throughout the makeshift set and the bar. Afterward, she went to each of the tables and shook the extras hands and thanked them for coming — she even signed a few cookbooks.

“I have made a ton of the stuff that she makes, and Giada's one of my favorites by far; there's the war of Rachel (Ray) or Giada, and I've loved Giada,” said longtime fan Jules Sharpley. “I'm sure it'll be fun to see the show and watch us in the background, but I invited a group of random friends to hang out, and we had a great time at our table. (We had) great conversation, great food and we just joked and laughed. It was more just a great place to be with friends, rather than being on the set of the show.”

Arts & Entertainment writer Ted Alvarez can be reached at 748-2939 or talvarez@vaildaily.com.

Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado

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